London Ice Sculpting Festival 2012

Last year’s London Ice Sculpting Festival yielded some pretty impressive results as you can see from their video:

I stopped by Canary Wharf yesterday to watch this year’s contestants in action. It was early on during the first day (today is the last), so the dripping blocks of solid ice were still very much works in progress as you’ll see from the photos. The general theme was Olympic sports (of course).

Chainsaws roared to life. Sculptors scraped and chipped and shaved away excess ice. Brooms pushed piles of snow aside. There was even a “snow box” where kids could go to build snowmen until it all melts away.

Here’s a few photos. If you take some today of the finished pieces, share them in the Flickr pool.

The Raking Scrape

Chipping Away

Full Concentration


Canary Wharf Photographers

Perhaps, though, the best part of yesterday’s little adventure was discovering the Global Fusion food stall set up behind the sculptures with plenty of samples. They sell vegan breads that are a bit more like scrumptiously moist cakes – apple-plum-oats, carrot-cherry, mango, cherry brandy, banana…I’m digging into a slice of delicious Creole apple crumble soda bread right now. Gorgeous. If you’re there today, don’t miss it. (Also, the girl who runs is lovely and likes to burst into loud song.)


Oh, and one more thing. Little London Observationist is now available on Kindle for all of you looking for something to pass the time on your daily commute. It’s on and and gets sent to your Kindle just as a book would. Enjoy!

John Kortland’s Londoners

I am loving John Kortland’s ongoing photographic study of Londoners going about their daily lives. It’s all retirement fun for him, but I think his work is an awesome compilation of history in the making.

He's Behind You !

London is London because of the people who come and go, who leave behind a small piece of themselves in the process.

Big Issue Seller And Owner

It is what it is because these people are sharing the streets of this city but going about their lives in whichever way the days take them.

Forbidden Treat

They are eating, laughing, crying, walking, biking, getting lost…

Spiky Will

…shopping, busking, sleeping rough, squatting, sleeping in mansions, urinating in doorways, painting the walls…

Crushed Nuts

…smiling at strangers, avoiding eye contact, contorting themselves into crazy shapes for the sake of entertainment…

Black Bowler

…reading on benches, engaging in politics, being apathetic, dressing eccentrically, smoking cigarettes…

Smokers Corner

…chatting on mobiles, drinking tea, stumbling around drunk, being prim and proper…

Bag Man

…looking for love, looking for friendship, looking for a taste of home, looking for a way to belong, looking for a way to escape…

I Think It's Occupied Doris !

…being creative, jogging, having a rant, taking the piss, practising English, trying something new, learning, being…

Black And White Check

They are the life and energy of London and John’s work captures little pieces of that patchwork at a time.

Just Walking In The Rain

If you missed the interview with John last week, check it out here.

Speaking of Londoners, don’t miss yesterday’s giveaway post – my copy of Londoners by Craig Taylor. A big thumbs up from me.

Looking Down

It’s a long climb up to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral. There are 528 twisting steps through sometimes narrow passageways following a train of other people. There are signs that warn you there is no way down until you reach the top and not to climb if you’re not sure you will make it. But once you get to the top, all that exercise is worth the view and you’ll want to make the best of it before you start climbing back down again!

View of Tate Modern from St. Paul's Cathedral 3

View of Tate Modern from St. Paul's Cathedral 2

Listen to a Londoner: Emily Webber

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview post with people who live (or have lived for a while) in London. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at Always looking for new volunteers.   

Emily Webber,
(Photo by Mike Laurie)   

Emily is a native Londoner. You’ll most likely find her cruising around London on her bright green Vespa seeking out cool photos for her blog London Shop Fronts.

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
I was born in London, so pretty much all my life. I grew up in the south east but crossed north of the river to east London.   

LLO: What gave you the idea to start your blog, London Shop Fronts?
 It started when I was taking photos of my local area in 2004. I always found them fascinating and an interesting insight into an area, its history of affluence and diaspora. In 2008, I finally put some online, which sparked my interest to take more. Shop fronts are fascinating for so many reasons and as the collection gets bigger it only gets more interesting.       

LLO: Which shop front that you’ve captured is your favourite so far?
I couldn’t choose just one. I have so many I like for many different reasons. The first photo I posted on my blog was Get Stuffed (taxidermy) in Islington and probably my favourite types are Cafes, Launderettes and Chinese takeaways. These seem to have the most original signage and layering of history.  



LLO: Favourite place in London to take your camera?
I am never without my camera, so everywhere! But I’m most excited when I find a new street full of independent shops that I haven’t been to before.  

LLO: Somewhere in London you’d like to explore but haven’t had a chance yet?
  I’d love to get the chance to see some of secret London, the places that are locked most of the time like the closed underground stations (see Last year I got the chance to explore Savoy Cafe ( which has been closed since the 80s, it was an amazing chance to see something that has hardly changed since the 50s.

LLO: Loving the bright green Vespa! Have you found it to be the best way to get around the city?
I love my vespa for many reasons and it really is a great way to get around. It beats sitting on a bus or a tube and of course looks great.

LLO: Best London discovery?
London has so much to offer once you start exploring, I love summer walks along the canal to the parks and marshes around Hackney and Walthamstow.    

LLO: What’s your favourite London shop?
I do a lot of my shopping online and I particularly love finding unique stuff on Etsy and eBay.    

LLO: If I only had one night in London, where would you tell me to eat and drink?
  Cocktails at Saf then dinner and drinks at Bistrotheque.

LLO: Describe your perfect Saturday in London.
Probably start with brunch in Springfield Park cafe if it’s warm and sunny, then out (on the vespa) for some photo taking, then back to Hackney’s numerous pubs for some drinks with friends. 

Thanks Emily!  

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.